This is the year you are going to start working with bloggers and other influencers, at least that was your New Year's resolution... of course that was last Year's resolution also. The problem is where do you start? Let me propose a simple way to get started.
Before The Chase Begins
When I was a kid I had a dog that chased cars but I was never convinced he had thought this through. What was he going to do with a car of he ever caught one? Many destinations begin working with bloggers with no better plans that Fideaux had. So before you start answer these two questions?
1) What are you trying to accomplish?
2) What kind of value can you provide to bloggers?
There are many goals that blogger / influencer outreach can help you address:
1) Do you need content for your website or more links to it to try and get more search traffic?
2) Do you want more content about your destination elsewhere on the web for marketing?
3) Are you trying to build your presence on Social Media?
4) Are there specific audiences that you need help reaching?
5) Are there specific messages you are trying to get out?
6) Are there misperceptions about your destination that you want to correct?
7) Are there regions or countries where you want to target your message?
You don’t need to know the answer to all of those questions yet, but pick one that you want to make progress on to get started.
Quid Pro Quo
Bloggers have the same need to eat on a regular basis that you do so the question they will have about visiting your destination vs another one is what is in it for them. What do you have to offer? Your budget is limited and you want to get the most of of what you spend.
Here are some questions to ask:
1) Can I provide payment?
2) Can I provide accommodations?
3) Can I provide some other savings like a museum pass or a transit pass?
4) Is there value I can bring that won’t cost me money?
5) Are there partners I can work with?
The White House wanted to motivate travel bloggers at the recent Travel Blogger’s Summit to get out the story of the advantages of studying abroad. The problem is that they had no budget at all for this effort. So first they worked with other sponsors who also wanted to reach out to top travel bloggers like Hostelling International and Turkish Airways. Hostelling International offered to put up the bloggers for a night, Turkish Airlines sponsored a party. They offered a chance to meet with people like the White House Chief of Staff and a tour of the White House. For the 10 bloggers who promoted their message the most on social media they invited them back to the White House for a special one on one tour including a peak in the Oval Office. This cost them time, for sure, but no money.
So what can you do? You can promote the posts they write for sure, but that is just table stakes. Can you give a blogger a free walking tour? Can you connect them with a hotel sponsorship.
If you wanted to buy a sponsored post on a blog that can easily cost $100-500 depending on the audience of the blog, so consider what you can provide that will have that kind of value.
When a destination starts to work with bloggers it may start with a media trip but that can be an expensive way to get started. BloggerBridge.com just started selling a Lite version of their product ($200 / year) that will let you:
1) Be notified when bloggers are coming to one specific city (either yours or that popular tourist destination nearby). If you know when bloggers will be in your area you can reach out to them and not have to spend your budget on plane tickets which can help your budget go further. Why keep sending those “If I had known you were in the area…” emails?
2) List an opportunity for bloggers. For example, if you decided above that you could provide a night’s lodging then you can advertise that in exchange for a blog post on your destination (for either your blog or theirs, depending on your goals) then you can put them up. Or maybe you just offer a museum pass publicly, but if you see someone who has a big following is interested you can sweeten the pot. The system also let’s you filter which bloggers will see your offer by traffic numbers, social media followers, blog topic, years of blogging etc. You can use this if you find you are getting too much interest.
Whether you have a great experience or a less stellar one, you can also review and rate bloggers so that other DMOs will know who are the best people to work with.
Influencer outreach, blogger outreach can be useful to help you meet your goals. It does not have to be complicated and the best way to learn it is to start today.
Chris Christensen is the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.